Recently, I was introduced to this painting and was curious to learn more about it. Clearly it's a landscape featuring a stream and birch trees. It's signed with a monogram potentially "A J Buel; 1898"

I have some experience researching historic paintings. I played a key role in the discovery and auctioning of a Vigée LeBrun, but that's a story for another post. I started my career as a gallery assistant for a dealer of late 19th and early 20th century artworks. Because I sat at the front desk I had a front row seat in watching him value paintings. He would always start by turning the piece around. He was looking for a few things beyond the subject matter, signature, and appearance of age visible from the front. He was looking to see...

  • Are the stretcher bars machine cut or hand cut wood
  • Is the linen machine woven and does it have an aged color to it
  • How is the fabric attached to the stretcher. Is it nailed or stapled or has the piece been relined
  • Are there stickers, labels, or other attribution on the back
  • Are those tags also placed on the frame
  • What is the hanging hardware on the frame
  • Is the frame's core plaster or wood. If it's guilt gold then the red peaking through is a good indication of an old adhesive used to apply gold leaf

I applied these questions to this painting when I saw it in person, and it definitely appears to be an original aged painting. I looked up the signature on John Castagno's website,  I found a few monograms that were similar but they didn't make sense given the year the painting was made. After some further searching, I found these paintings below. They were sold in the UK in 2013. They are attributed to an A.J. Buel, and are dated 1903. I can't make out the signatures in these pictures but they appear to include a monogram as well. This is as far as I've gotten in my research on this piece...the search continues.